« Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations

Elizabeth Lesser: The Marrow of Who We Are

2019-01-16 | 🔗

New York Times best-selling author and co-founder of the Omega Institute Elizabeth Lesser returns to “SuperSoul Conversations” to further discuss her sister's battle with cancer and their two-year spiritual quest to reconnect. Elizabeth talks about the spiritual journey she and her sister, Maggie, shared as they built an eternal sacred bond during Maggie's final days. In her book “Marrow: A Love Story,” Elizabeth writes about the importance of knowing ourselves down to the "marrow" of who we are in order to love with greater depth and courage. Elizabeth also shares how observing Maggie, as she prepared for death, made her believe more strongly in an afterlife.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
I'm over Winfrey welcome to supersede conversations the podcast cast, I believe, One of the most valuable gives you can give yourself is time taking time to be more fully present your journey to become more inspired and connected to the deeper world around us starts right now. Joining me today
a friend and one of our favorite spiritual teachers, Elizabeth Lesser when she was last here, Elizabeth was in the midst of a two year, spiritual quest to repair and elevate her relationship with her sister Maggie, who, at the time, was dying from cancer. Elizabeth donated her bone marrow to her sister Mackey and their shared cells came to symbolise a kind of sacred physical, as well as spiritual bond, Maggie passed away in January twenty fifteen, but that eternal connection between the sisters remains Elizabeth Causer Exe
hence a soul marrow transplant which she writes about in her memoir marrow, a love story. Where were you when you at last sat down together here you are in the midst of helping your sister, Maggie Battle Lymphoma, and then she passed yes and I want to know how has this past year unfolded for you, spiritually and emotionally? Well, the first, a fact when I lost her was deep. Green disbelief? You know the stages of grief they talk about when you're real, even though you were prepared, oh yeah yeah, it's sort, it doesn't make a difference. I mean I've lost my parents and some food but this was a long letting go of her, but still it was a sense of loss and then there's moments after
Someone dies like maybe weeks where the connection is so strong. If you stay open to it. Yeah dreams visitations, just constantly feeling surrounded by the person that was wonderful and slowly. Two lesson is the person moves on and you move on in your own life and then began. To kind of metabolize what had happened, because it had been too very intense years, caring for her going through the bone marrow transplant, myself being the donor, the fear of that the intensity of our relationship, There were months of me finally like trying to figure out what was that all about blood I'll tell you one thing that was so helpful, difficult but helpful
is that the last time we were together here as I was leaving, you said you know this is a book and I took that to heart. Of course you know books and I started writing. I didn't know he was gonna, be a book and I think, even if it was in a book, being able to approach it. From the standpoint of I want to remember every things I want to remember every thing I want every moment in this experience. To teach me and lift me and unfold me and strengthen the all those things. That's that's also what I was saying yeah I got you remember every little thing and it's a blessing to blessing yeah, because the fact that you were good and literally give up your cells
her your bone marrow for her. I know that is no small thing that you're going in and taking out a part of yourself. That's going to live in some one else. That has to be not just a physical thing but so, emotional, spiritual, it's an emotional spiritual, giving like none other absolutely, and I think that what you right at the beginning of marrow on page eight. This is the end, of what this conversation is about today and the essence of what your book about you say, love self love of other two strands in the love braid. I love love freight I've braided these strands together and all sorts of relationships in varying degrees of grace and ineptitude a message, in both directions, being self centered, being a martyr
knowing my own words, not valuing the essential worth of other to love well, is to get the balance right. It's the work of a lifetime. It is art. Its also with this book is about amazing, beautiful words, but so, true, it is to love. Well, is to get the balance right, yeah, that's what you figure it out on this journey. Yes, I've always been interested in what seems like two different things. How do I love myself? You know everyone says to thine own self, be true, whether it Shakespeare or the Bible or whomever it's. What we think is real. We gonna love ourself, but at the same time we we have this yearning connect with others and to see that self in the other, and so sometimes we air in one direction being way more self centered. Then we should be, and sometimes we air,
the other direction, giving herself away, not trusting ourself being more for other people than for herself and love is getting that balance right bringing your real self to another person's real self? That's not easy! It's not easy and it really not easy when people are at their lowest when they are in paying physical pain, emotional, paying their thick. Yes yeah, but you did it, we did it together and we did it deliberately unconsciously. Now we had I love that you called the book marrow to. I didn't mean to interrupt just they're just wanted to say. Thank you. I love that you call it marrow cuz, it's not just about the fact that you gave up your bone marrow
that going also to the marrow of yourself and being able to give that to another person yeah we we we came to this distinction as we were working with each other to clean up our relationship, so that may be the bone marrow transplant would work better, we started calling what we were doing emotionally: a soul marrow transplant. So there was the bone marrow transplant and then we wanted to really give each other. Our souls are true selves because in a bone marrow transplant. Two things can happen that would make it fail. The new marrow gets into the patient and either her cells reject the new cells or myself would attack her side day of rejection and attack. So we wanted to work on no longer rejecting it.
Other no longer attacking each other and what you knew, which I thought was so profound. We talk a little bit about this. The last time we were other. What you knew is, if you didn't fix your stuff, that you had a sisters that on a cellular level. It would not work, there would be discord yeah. I knew it from all of my work and reading with the mind body, inaction and not just my belief in my experience it in myself, you know when you're stressed your immune system. Lower you get the cold. We. I knew that there was a connection between when you're out of balance. This is out about that's right yeah. So when we're out of balance, yes, then, since we were about to share cells with each other, I thought, if we're out of balance here, then it's not going to work
It makes sense real sense. So I love that yeah. I interrupt you. You said this is a journey we did. We did together because in cooperation with each other, you made the decision I got. Was she at first reluctant to receive very much so we're very different, which was one of the reasons she was so surprised when under the four sisters I was the one who's marrow matched furs, because we're very different and She was reluctant to do anything to touch a fairly or new Agee whore Wu Wu. I've always been the Wu Wu edge of the family she's, a real, pragmatic one nurse practitioner, Vermont, Woods, woman. She loved me, but had some judgments,
my lot yeah shall we say, and so you went into therapy and what happened in therapy well at first, I said to my sister Maggie: what do you think? This idea of the mind body connection in us cleaning up our relationship, and I was very surprised that it took her only a few minutes to say I'm in and she was in because her life is hanging in the balance. We do amazing things when we have to do so. We went in therapy with a therapist that some one in our family already knew. So there was a sense of comfort for her, and you know you think of therapies
taking a long time, and you got a rehash everything in your, like. Oh god, I don't want to go through this again, but it went really quickly because we had this deadline. Her life was hanging in the balance, so we both brought all of our attention and our presence and our best selves to it, and he brought us back through the years of our childhood all the way back to our earliest memories of rejecting were attacking each other, and some of it was really petty. You know you didn't sit next to me on the bus, and some of it was big like those years when we weren't really relating or talking to each other much, and we got to say why. Why did that happen? What was going on for you and what was so remarkable was that we move through it very fast, because the answer always was it wasn't that I didn't love. You is that this was going on in my life
oh, why didn't you tell me then, and we began to seem very quickly. We do this with everyone we make assumptions. We dont tell our truth. We dont interrupt assumptions that then calcified into behaviour into grand misunderstandings and because it was so intensified because literally I was in the middle of getting ready to have my bone marrow harvested for her. Are, we really showed up for each other. We clean things up very fast. Don't go anywhere more to come after this short break These episode is supported by hallmark cards. We say, I love you too. The people we care about all the time. So, much so that sometimes it can start to feel a little bit like a habit if you're
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talks about finding the match. It's a wonderful thing when you find the match, but no one rarely speaks about what the giver of the marrow is also experiencing. What was that for you? Well, when I first found out. I was the match. There was some kind of an immediate sense of I knew it. I knew I would be, and then there was a sense of, is it gonna work in my gonna hurt? Is it? Is it frightening and I had a tremendous amount of mixed emotions, but mostly what I had was what an honor- and we all want to do things for other people. Want to feel useful. You want to feel purposeful. You want to feel what an address I mean, what what could be easier and away you just get the blood taken out of you and you give it me save someone's life's it's an honor. It was an army. Was there any pain for Europe? Yeah, there's a lot of pain, leading up to,
you know, the marrow in your bones is where your stem cells are created and stem cells are what she needed. That's what a person with a blood cancer needs, new stem cells and Oh right now you stem cells are waiting for your body to say I need new stem cells to come out through the bones and create new brain cells or new skin cells. It Erika I was just going to say it's a mere every moment is of blessedness. It's amazing like if you just press on your size. Now you wouldn't think my five as a place of miracles. Yes, widow usually think of our thighs, like that like deepen that bony, especially those bones. There's this amazing life and death dance going on right now, and so in order to stimulate more stem cells to come out into the bloodstream. They give you this growth factor that makes
your bones ache tremendously, and it happens over five days until so many like yeah. You write about actually aching in your boat. People say that I'm so bone tired, but eight when you actually ache in your bones. Yes, it was. It was an amazing experience to feel that deep ache. Well, one of the lessons that I think that emerge from your writing process is this idea that we all have to find our own authenticity and I see that you came out of it more of yourself than you ever been, with a greater sense of clarity and I it's one of the reasons why you wanted to write the button right yeah. Yes, I want to write a book about authenticity even before this story, but I was having trouble writing about because you know it's a fine line between being authentic and being a narcissist. You know like
being so me yeah, it's it's of your face and when you write about it, you can easily slip into that language of self self Self, and I was looking for a way to write about authenticity, but it wasn't until that very experience. I was just talking about the aching, the bones, which actually happened. The same day, we had the first therapy session where we had dug deep for ourselves: was painful to dig into old stories about our relationship and hence to admit. I was wrong I am sorry for her to say it for us too, like make our way toward each other soul, and when I began to feel that bone ache.
If it had a similarity that to find are authentic self, sometimes is a painful journey to sift through the voices and to sift through everything that we think we are that we aren't. It can be hard. It can be a difficult except. Periods, but I think what I got from this is that you want us all to know that, although Yours was a matter of life and death because you use marrow as marrow and also as a metaphor for going deep that we don't have to reach of life or death at you,
fishing in order to offer the marrow of ourselves to another person yeah. I would hope that's what someone would take away from the book that this is not a situations, that's going to happen to most people, but what I learned from it and what I've been living since it is to air in the direction of connection with everyone to connect with people, even if it feels sky hurry, if even if you'd, rather not, that we longed to know each other soul to soul with long for that, but we're afraid, lousy, there's a thing about war. The people I need to clean up things were to be in that space. Of cleaning up and to be able to be in the position to say what did I do to hurt you? How did I heard you? What could I have done better you? We all did all of that. Yes, we did and we did it because, as I said, we wanted
to teach ourselves to do the same thing when they got into her body. You know, like don't attack, don't reject. So we went through that. How did I hurt you? How did I hurt you? Will you forgive me and while isn't it as so powerful and, as you say that I think about all the people who are listening to us right now who have been hurt or Kurt other people and how simple it would be just here. It is, it's so simple and gave the space of peace with that by saying how did I heard? How did I hurt you tell me and then to listen and to listen, it's very hard not to get to fancy not, and this is why having a therapist. We only met with him twice. He taught us how to do it on our own. We then spent. How do I really listen, not start with your, but what I
well. I didn't mean ahead and I can't believe you felt that that's right really his only job. The whole time was like wait a minute later finnish and that's so it's simple, but it's not easy, and sometimes you need help and not everyone is safe to do it with. This is an important point. That's not just as essential. You have to be in agreement to do it. You do you can't do it would somebody who is still care who still wants to hold
onto the anger, that's right and I can assure you it doesnt work as I have tried over and over sometimes with the same purse. Really, yes, you know. I came out of the experience like ok, I'm going to clean it up, but there are some people who it will threaten. There are some people who really don't want to go there and who are so wounded that they just still feel they have to wound other people? You know my Angelo has a wonderful wine careful when a naked man offers you a shirt, and she said that after she said something like I dont trust people who say, I love you when they don't love themself. So to me, that's what you but for this person safe for me to be vulnerable with well, does this person love himself enough to two to go there with an one
the things it becomes clear here in marrow is that it's not about you know, making the other person come clean with themselves or finally, Euro, resolving whatever it's about its about yourself. It's about fixing with yourself first and then ran recent right. Maggie said something to me in one of the therapy sessions we were what was called a perfect match, our genetic markers for the bone marrow transplant word perfectly matched and at one point in therapy session. I was kind of beating myself up for stuff. I had done and she said you know you don't have to be perfect to be my perfect match, and that was such a list.
Creation for me and its aid with me and I'd say it's probably the most important thing I took from it that I dont have to be a perfect person to be just the right person for you right now. You don't have to be perfect either, tell me how this whole process change your relationship with death. Well, it's something I think about and have since I was a little kid Fear of death wanting to know what's, on the other side, fascination with death damn watching her take her last breaths watching her chain in the last days leading up to her death, where she finally knew she was gonna die, because even when all
answer pointing you're. Gonna die, you don't believe it, but when she finally got this, is it I'm heading out and she was in her full right mind, and so I watched her become. Not only accepting of debt But ready for it almost excited for it, and she was not a believer in and way shape or form, but she began to say things like see that breakin this clouds, that's where I'm going and her sense of death changed. And it really gave me a stronger faith that we go somewhere afterwards. Tell me about the time you the two of you were together and she said this has been the best year of my life
Well, we were coming from coming from one of the therapy sessions the second therapy session, and we had set a lot of things to each other, and this we were driving home. We were. It was beautiful spring day and we were by a river you're about to cross a bridge and she said There is one thing I forgot to tell you in the therapy session and I said what she said. This has been the best year of my life, And then she told me how, even though it had been a horrible year full of physical pain and fear, she had never felt were clearly herself. She had finally stood in herself and she had a long history of not doing
of a troubled marriage where she hadn't done it of always doing what she thought. Other people wanted her to do, selling yourselves short all the time, and she said this is the year I I came home to myself. Thank you. Thank you for giving me this year and so when she said that you felt I felt. I felt probably the most emotionally hole I had ever felt in my life. I felt we gave everything to each We went all the way with each other. You know I've been met for many years. I have children, but I dont think to people of ever loved each other more than in that moment, because we had given everything I do
in her my bone marrow she'd. Given me her trust we ve, given each other, are truths we had clean. Our relationship. There was nothing really left between us but love and to hear that this has been the best year of my life. It was just loves, come formation, because I know you don't believe enclosure now now like. That word is my least favorite word closure, especially in our culture, works we'll say, like you get two days off, your mom died, come back to work, closure to good thing
Van move on to the extent that you ve loved yeah. That's the extent that you want to keep your heart that open, even in grief, cause that's where you connect with the person. That's where you get loves, confirmation re! That's right! You stay open. People are afraid to stay open because maybe it'll hurt, but the gift of grief is that you stay connected. Do show fill her. I do I do I feeler all the time I feel all right now. Can you tell me whether You think that her spirit, her energy, her somehow fused with your own. Well, you know for that year that we shared the same blood.
And we were in such an intense period of being together. I did feel closer to one this with her. Then I've really ever felt with anyone and, at the same time, much more fully our selves. That was one of the great mysteries to me that I I solved during that year, how we are both one. We are one. We are the same you and I hope we are one we. Back to the same river. Yes, but if we also are very different and weird uniquely ourselves, how is that possible? How're we won and how are we unique souls? I've always wondered about that, but I
bearing instant with her. We truly were one, but we were put here on earth to do different things so when she died, though I I do feel she took her essence and went on into the next world, but then for. While you feel the essence, because when my I died yeah I felt it was. It was thick thick. She was like right, here all the time I get the it was it was like. I was like a real present
Didn't Maggie, come to you and your dreams and tell you something, and you share that. That's the other thing dreams if you stay open at the end, you get these dreams that I called visitations and I've made a study of it. I've asked a lot of people about visitation dreams in this very similar qualities. The person who comes back is young and vibrant and very alive, and just there and so probably two weeks after she died. I had one those dreams, the only dream I've had since she died of that strength. She came back. She was in a room and I was so surprised to see her eyes like, but you died how come you're here she didn't speak. She went into a room
A large auditorium where a movie was being shown and I went to find her ass. She walked very fast and I found the seat where she had sat down. But when I look to my left to see her, it was some one else. It was a man, and I couldn't tell who is this man? Is he my ex husband? Is he all the people I've heard, because there was a sense in this man of being very judge mental toward me of not seeing my soul of not liking, who I was- and I woke up from it with a start like what? Why did Maggie come back and show me? This man, then afraid mine dead. You know who that is that man was it's you it's them you who still is looking outside yourself for approval, it's the who, who still doesn't trust her own marrow? Maggie came back to you to say
you don't need anyone else's approval, approve of yourself approve of your own marrow and that's just ring so true that she'd come back to say everything. You tried to teach me: let's do it yourself now and do it for real. So how did you become more authentically yourself in this process in those therapy sessions with Maggie? I began to see how so much of what I thought she thought about me and then I hadn't had internalized is what she thought:
She didn't even think that about me that we we had these misconceptions about what the other thought about the other and we turn them into these big story lines that affected how we felt about ourself, putting down those stories, both of us kind of rose out of the childhood, still raise oh you're, the little one year, the Basi one year, the good girl you're, the bad girl, would put those stories down and in putting my childhood stories down with a member of my family, which is
and his unusual most of the time people do it alone and putting it down to gather what bubbled up to the surface was just me I'm enough. Just to I am oh, that is the quest to figure that out gets to everybody's quest. It is its everybody's class yeah and she stepped into her enough. Miss I stepped into my enough now, and you know what happens when two enough MRS Meet love you know it's like it's also gotta be very powerful, very power. It is powerful in the end. I know the lesson you wish for all of us is to live each day from the marrow, and you write on page three o three deep within the house the earth and the marrow of the bomb is a compass, they quivers to the power of love,
and I know that through this journey, you discovered love so big that you say your heart will never shrink back to its enormous yeah. We think that the answer to life is complicated. Are you gonna go on some big quest for it and it turns out to be your enough just because you are you're enough and find the seed of enough this in the other person and give them that gift you enough to, and that's where love is that that is the seed of love to people who know who they are in their grand simplicity. Seeing other beyond the labels. Beyond the ego, just be
enough with each other. Is enough. Thank you. Thank you. Less beautiful, I'm over Winfrey and you ve been listening to supersede conversations the pod cast. You can follow super soul on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook if you haven't yet go to apple pod, callous and subscribe rate and reviewed this pledge. Gas join me next week for another supersede conversation. Thank you for listening.
Transcript generated on 2020-01-15.